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OPA-IESO merger framework inked

Following months of negotiation, The Society, Power Workers’ Union and management at the new IESO have agreed on a framework for merging the unionized workforces of each agency.

The merger, announced by the provincial government in its 2014 budget, takes effect on January 1, 2015.

This agreement means all Society-represented OPA employees, who recently joined The Society and hadn’t negotiated their first collective agreement, will be included in the existing IESO Local’s contract. That agreement was to run out on January 1 but has been extended to spring to see how the merger works in practice.

Key provisions of the merger framework address pensions, job evaluation and employee reductions.

On pensions, the parties will negotiate a merger of the two employee groups’ plans by December 31, 2015. If no agreement is reached, former OPA employees will become members of the current IESO plan.

With different job evaluation systems in use at OPA and IESO, the parties will seek to negotiate where each OPA job is graded in the existing IESO system. If there are any jobs that can’t be agreed to by September 30, 2015, they will be referred to mediation-arbitration for resolution.

A key goal for management was to achieve cost savings from efficiencies. To make any employee reductions as painless as possible, the framework agreement required the employer to seek voluntary reductions, with appropriate compensation, as a first step. The Society now reports that all employee reductions demanded by management have been achieved through the voluntary program.

This positive outcome is due in large measure to the hard work of Bryan Young, the OPA Bargaining Committee Chair; Dave Brown, LVP of IESO; and Mary Donnelly, The Society’s IESO staff representative.

The merger also means new IESO Local leadership will have to be elected by the amalgamated bargaining units. Nominations for IESO Local Vice President opened on December 10 and close on January 7. Until an LVP is elected, the present IESO LVP Dave Brown will act in the role. The OPA Bargaining Team will also provide acting representation.

If members have questions about this merger, they are encouraged to contact their local leadership.